Team Liquid reached its goal at the ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals by making it out of the group stage. The team went one step further by making the semifinals of the tournament before losing to North. Slingshot’s Jarek “DeKay” Lewis caught up with Liquid’s Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken during the event to talk about dealing with losses, playing Rank S and what he’d change in Counter-Strike.
Jarek “DeKay” Lewis: Over the course of your short career have you learned anything from anyone in particular in dealing with losses?
Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken: It’s more the way you lose. If we lost 16-14 and I had like below nine kills, then obviously I wasn’t contributing as much as I would normally, which would make me think I failed the team. Realistically I did by not being consistent. The team comes together when everybody is having an impact.
JL: So if everyone’s giving effort and you still come up short, that’s easier to deal with?
RVD: Yeah. Everybody is trying and they just outplayed us as a team.
JL: People might have noticed this week you picking up the second AWP. Is that something you do just by feel?
RVD: I did it the last round (against North). They were coming A a lot, and I just saw an AWP. I didn’t try it the entire tournament. It’s just situational.
JL: You’ve played with two in-game leaders now in Stanislaw and Sean (Gares). Are there any differences between the way they lead their teams?
RVD: Stanislaw is an amazing leader. So is Sean, but I feel like stanislaw has more of a fragging contribution. He has a different leading style. It’s more free and loose, but we do have a lot of set strats and executes.
JL: Have you ever played that kind of style? Do you enjoy it?
RVD: I do because we’re playing as a team. We’re not playing individual. That’s how most North American teams are, I feel. They just win by individual plays.
JL: It’s tough, right? Because I’ll watch some of you guys play Rank S and then watch some of these matches and it’s the same thing.
RVD: I’ve made my entire team stop playing Rank S.
JL: You have? Personally?
RVD: I mean, they all followed it. I said I’m never playing it ever again, and everybody stopped playing it, I guess.
JL: Moving forward, I saw how your goal as a team you said was to make it out of groups this weekend. How do you plan to evaluate yourselves in the future?
RVD: Making it out of groups was our main goal, 100 percent. We discussed it a week before the event because during our boot camp, I think we were really hard on ourselves at practice. But it seemed like everybody came into the event with a different mindset, so it was good.
JL: What is your next event? (Team Liquid has since qualified for the ECS Season 3 playoffs). What would your goals be there?
RVD: ECS is a pretty stacked event, so getting out of groups (is the goal).
JL: A lot of people kind of give a lot of criticism to Josh (JDM) about the way he uses his AWP. If you guys have a bad game, people say JDM isn’t being used properly. Would you say that’s a significant part of the game plan, putting him in the right positions?
RVD: I think so. In the past week, we’ve allowed him to go for everything. He’s been on fire this entire event. So any idea he has, he can just do it and I’ll support him, somebody else will support him. That’s just the way it is. I think he has a ton of ideas, and he’s one of the best AWPers.
JL: Is there anything you could think of that you would maybe change or could be improved in the scene? It could be in-game, events, anything…
RVD: Honestly, the amount of times I get jumping killed by SMGs is just so depressing, man. Just knowing on that third round where you’re just full saved, this guy’s rushing you with a MAC-10, and there’s just no way to kill him, which is upsetting.
This ESL event is probably, I’ve heard my teammates say it’s one of the best ESL events they’ve ever been to. The only problem I had was Day 1 of group stage, I was actually shivering on stage.
JL: Are nerves a factor to you when you play in front of a crowd?
RVD: It helps me. It got me so pumped up. I was like shaking Nick (“Nitro” Canella) next to me, trying to get him pumped up as well.
JL: Last one: Is there anything outside of CS you like that you don’t get enough time to do? What’s your main hobby?
RVD: I don’t get to visit my girlfriend as much. That’s a factor. My family. My mom loves watching me play, so she supports my career, which is great. Hobbies, I really like cars. I’ve always liked cars for a long time.
Cover photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack